One of the more unique aspects of indie music making in the streaming era is being able to announce that an emotionally compelling, lyrically fascinating, multi-faceted and stylistically eclectic band like Barkhouse is releasing their debut album (Paper & Ink), almost making it sound like this is a brand new band - when in truth the sparkling and soulful yet raw and edgy dreampop meets rootsy Americana trio of Will de Zengotita (vocals/guitar), Olmo Tighe (drums/vocals) and Jay Mort (bass/keys/vocals) have been around for a decade and have three critically acclaimed EPs to its credit.
And sure ,it might be fun find fresh new plays on words to capture the overwhelming emotions that hit the first time listener when tunes like the seductive, breezy and wafting opener “Truly Gifted,” the sparsely arranged, whimsical vocal harmony driven “Don’t Need My Headphones” (featuring a gorgeous cameo by singer Ariella Thornhill), and the trippy, retro and rumbling, late Beatlesque vibing “Found a New Baby” tickle the senses.
Yet their colorful history allows for something more perfect and spirited via the very direct words from a cheerful review of Barkhouse’s 2014 EP Wolves At the Wall: Rock and Roll Guru’s “Holy shit, this is good!” That “holy shit’ feeling continues throughout the eleven tracks of Paper & Ink, as the band throws in a heartfelt, soaring Latin-blues rock ballad (sung in Spanish and featuring David Paarlberg’s Hammond B-3 dazzle), hypnotizes us with the spacious and atmospheric “Homemade Crown” and throws us a charming old-timey unrequited love song (“If My Lonely Eyes Could Hold You”).
Barkhouse makes a correct assumption that they’ve kept our eyes on their edge of their seats waiting for the next creative zig and zag by wrapping the set with a bluesy-rootsy meditation on “The Jumonville Affair,” named after a French Canadian military officer who was killed during a skirmish with George Washington at the Battle of Jumonville Geln that set off the French and Indian War in 1754. Who writes songs like that – on the same album where they sing Latin rock ballads? This is why Barkhouse is truly worthy of the “Holy shit” designation!